Sheldon’s Blog

Every week I welcome you into my world. I share my thoughts on a variety of subjects relating to performance, teaching and composing. From venues, to techniques to songs I find interesting. It’s all in my blog.

Live Entertainment – My Musical Summer

Live Entertainment – My musical summer

I’ve had a very busy summer this year and I’ve been lucky enough to provide live entertainment for a lot of different types of events. In this blog I wanted to share some of my summer experiences through the photos and stories I’ve been a part of.

Summer of Elaborate Staging

This summer I’ve performed a lot with the Function Band and they have gone all out with their staging and light production. I took the photo above when we provided live entertainment for a corporate dentist awards show. We had an absolute blast.

The Trio in full force

The trio has been quite busy this summer and we managed to venture recently to Richmond to perform at Bridget and Ali’s wedding. What I like about the live entertainment we provide as a trio is how much we can do in a day. We can start both acoustically and instrumentally. Then work our way into an acoustic vocal trio. And finally throw in our backing tracks to get people on the dance floor for a party. It’s a lot of fun.

Guitar Repairs

Occasionally when prodiving live entertainment accidents happen. And at a gig in Stoke Newington my guitar was knocked over which lead to me meeting the lovely guys from LA guitars. They managed to fix the guitar in one day and saved my life as I was performing the following day at a big event.

A month of amazing views

I am very fortunate that as a musician I get to travel to some unbelievably scenic destinations on a weekly basis. I mean drop dead gorgeous! The photo above was taken at Quendon Hall and the day could not have been better. The sun was beaming, the guests were dressed to impress and it really was a beautiful wedding.

So many cakes

I think the photo above wins the most original cake design. It really does show the difference between the couple getting married but it also shows what marriage is all about – COMPROMISE! This was taken at the same wedding that the couple swooped in on helicopters to greet their guests.

Lights, Camera, Live entertainment

The summer was also when I decided to take myself, the duo and trio to the O2 for a video shoot. With the help of a great team I was able to showcase my solo, duo, trio, DJ live and DJ set ups. It was a really fun experience and actually really interesting. I learnt about all the various types of lenses and shots that go into making a video. We did a lot, I mean a lot of takes to get the perfect angles but it was well worth it. You can see the full promo video below.

So that’s been my summer of live entertainment. I am very fortunate to do something that I love and wouldn’t choose to do anything else. I hope to see you at an event real soon. If you’re looking to book a musician for your event whether it’s solo, duo, triio, DJ or something else feel free to get in touch.

 

Music Geek’s Corner – What is Parallel Harmony?

Jazz guitar lessons

Music Geek’s Corner – What is Parallel Harmony?

Solo Musician For Events - Sheldon Conrich

I thought I’d share a concept with you music geeks who crave a bit of extra harmony knowledge. A lot of people are familiar with playing a song in a key. This is a simple concept consisting of a set of chords that belong together like a family. Most of the time we use the key of C major as a sort of default key to be able to apply rules and ideas. From C major we can then convert all our knowledge to the rest of the keys.

So the key of C consists of the following notes as you may well already know: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. And from here we can convert these into chords C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and Bdim.

With this knowledge we can play quite a lot of famous songs like ‘Let it Be’, ‘Save Tonight’, ‘La Bamba’ etc. So if I assume you know about basic key knowledge (Major keys, Minor keys and modes) then we can jump right into parallel harmony. By the way it’s important to know that chords can be extended to longer sounding harmony like Maj7, min7, 7th, 1/2dim, Dim7 . These will be used a lot, so if you don’t know then get to know!

So what is Parallel Harmony?

Duo and Trio for events - Sheldon Conrich

Well parallel harmony introduces the notion of shared chord changes which come from parallel keys. So what are parallel keys? Well they’re any key that starts with the same note. So for example some of the parallel keys for the note C are:

C major, C harmonic minor, C melodic minor and C Dorian.

I’ve decided to use only four parallel keys to begin with to make this a bit easier to play around with. So let’s look at what notes and chords feature in all of these keys.

The Notes

C major – C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

C harmonic minor – C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B, C

C melodic minor – C, D, Eb, F, G, A , B, C

C Dorian mode – C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb, C

The Chords

C major – C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, C

C Harmonic minor – Cmmaj7, D 1/2dim, Ebmaj7#5, Fm7, G7, Abmaj7, Bdim7

C melodic minor – Cmmaj7, Dm7, Ebmaj7#5, F7, G7, A 1/2dim, B 1/2dim,

C Dorian – Cm7, Dm7, Ebmaj7, F7, Gm7, A 1/2 dim, Bbmaj7

Using Parallel Harmony

What is a phrase - Michael Brecker

Now that we have the chords written out it’s about finding cool ways to mix and blend these parallel keys together to create something interesting and different. Subsequently the melodies that you use for a chord will correspond to the scale the chord comes from. I.e. If you choose Dm7 from C dorian then your melody notes will come from the C dorian mode. Got it! So down to the practical stuff – the combos.

These are just some parallel harmony chord choices I’ve decided to use. You can obviously play around with your own stuff. By the way, this technique can make your progressions go very jazzy or neo soul.

  1. Cmaj7     Ebmaj7   Dm7          G13
    (Major) (Dorian) (Dorian) (Major)
  2. Cmaj7    Abmaj7      Gm7           G7
    (Major) (Harm)   (Dorian)  (Harm)
  3. Cm           A 1/2dim   Abmaj7  Fm
    (Harm)  (Melodic)  (Harm) (Harm)
  4. Cm             Ab             Eb                 Bb
    (Dorian)  (Harm) (Dorian)  (Dorian)
  5. Cmaj7     Fmaj7    Em7       Ebmaj7
    (Major) (Major) (Major) (Dorian)

Ok so now you should know a little bit more about parallel harmony and how to construct your own chord progressions. Once you’ve got used to the four scale options above try adding more modes into the mix. Explore more parallel harmony from the major scale, harmonic minor scale and melodic minor scale. Then try different keys on your instrument. Always do this on your instrument so you can feel the changes. Some changes work theoretically but sound or feel wrong. Happy playing and good luck.

Any questions feel free to get in touch.

What makes a great Wedding DJ?

DJ live and DJ for events - Sheldon Conrich

What Makes a great wedding DJ?

When looking for a wedding DJ it is important to find the right person for your day. But with a sea of DJ’s out there who do you choose? What are the factors that will affect your decision? Where should you look and what makes a great wedding DJ? I will hopefully answer a few of these questions for you.

A Wedding DJ with Experience

It’s very important to be able to trust that your wedding DJ knows what he or she is doing. A lot of the time, great musical decisions come from years of experience DJing at weddings and events. A wedding DJ is very different to a club DJ. And a wedding DJ is also very different to a friend who always picks really cool songs at parties. Experienced wedding DJs always think about two things – energy levels and who’s on the dance floor. Those two factors will make a big difference to the songs chosen at that moment in time.

A Wedding DJ with mixing skills

There are a lot of DJs out there who can mix from one song to the next which is great. There is a skill in being able to match the beats of songs and blend them together. But with modern technology it’s the latter part that the real skill of a wedding DJ can be found. Finding the right time in a track to mix the next song is key. Also how the track has been mixed in is very important. A good wedding DJ will need to decide on some of the following mixing factors – how long the blend will take, whether or not to use any special fx, what eq tricks to use, sampling, looping tricks, key matching etc. All of these are very subtle but it makes for a much smoother and ultimately better experience for guests on the dance floor.

Genre and song repertoire

If you’re at a wedding there will likely be a range of guest ages. Each of these groups of people will have different tastes, likes and dislikes in music. Yet the goal of the wedding DJ is to get all these people on the dance floor for as long as possible to create a great atmosphere. So the key to any great wedding DJ is down to their large repertoire of songs. If you have a DJ who can mix pop to r&b, to swing, to house, to drum n bass to indie etc it will give your guests the greatest chance of all enjoying themselves throughout the evening. Just having these songs on their playlist will not be enough. It’s about knowing which of these songs work well after each other and reading when to play them through out the day.

How to find a great wedding DJ

Well this is a very tricky one because how many weddings does the average person go to in their life? Not as many as you think. So how do you find a good wedding DJ if you’re not at a lot of weddings? Well some of the work will be done by approaching music agencies who can provide you with a list of recommended and experienced DJs. Other options include asking friends for recommendations from events they’ve been to. If you’ve got the time and good ears then it may be the case to keep a listen out as you go to bars, clubs etc. You may potentially catch a gem of a DJ and can grab his or her number.

Book a Wedding DJ

 

Wedding DJ Sheldon Conrich

If you are looking for a wedding DJ and need some advice feel free to get in touch. As a musician and DJ I’ve been performing at events for over ten years and have vast experience in this area. I’d be happy to chat about anything musical you need for your special day.

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